I don’t know about others, but for me the love of crafts and making comes closely related to curiosity as to finding out how things are made. With knitting I get the most thrill out of figuring out how a certain new stitch pattern creates a certain texture, how to resolve different design elements, and, ultimately, how a given garment is constructed. Besides, I’m constantly tempted to adopt new hobbies and experiment with different modalities of making.
As a beer drinker, when I first came to Wellington, I was (and still am) amazed at how well people seem to know their beer here. The city itself is dubbed “Craft Beer Capital” and is home to over a dozen established breweries. No wonder, you would probably have to kill or seriously threaten a Wellingtonian before they’d submit their palates to abominations such as your average Heineken. Here you don’t go to a pub and ask for a beer by brand name, you’ll do as wine drinkers, only, instead of a Merlot or a Pinot Noir, you’ll order an IPA, an APA, a Porter or a Pilsner. This for me was quite a bit of a change after the almost exclusive dominance of local Estrella Galicia back in Coruña. That was the beer, sacred, untouchable, and in no way could you even suggest that others might exist – or God forbid – taste better.
Note: After a year of exposure, even Chan was seduced by the “almighty”, and delusions lead him to believe he would miss the bitter lager from the antipodes.
With all the beer hype it is only natural that one would want to join not only the drinking crowd, but also the crafty lot. So the idea had been there in the back of our minds, but well, becoming a home brewer is a bit of a commitment with all the material, apparent hassle, and the uncertain outcome… And there came our brilliant friend Emma, who told us she was planning to spend Sunday afternoon doing a bit of brewing. We didn’t hesitate as much as a second to sign up, of course. Brewing kit, material and supervision provided, it should be a piece of cake.
We showed up at the Occasional Brewer as complete brewing newbies, somewhat nervous, only to find that the equipment reminded us (or me at least) of long-forgotten chemistry classes. We were handed our instructions/recipes for the specific beer style we had chosen to craft – in our case a Blonde Ale – and instructed step-by-step in the basics.
Essentially the experience was not much different from trying out a new recipe for Sunday lunch. Or perhaps even more like getting together at a friends’ place to bake a carrot cake for the first time. We were told to carefully mind the thermostats for different parts of the process, we mixed grains with hot water, drained the brew from one pot to the other, recirculated the wort (this is a new word I learnt), stirred, and measured out hops on a kitchen scale. As brewing takes time, we were around for most of the afternoon, and while waiting for the grains to soak or the brew to boil we enjoyed some craft beer (what else?) and chatted away at the pub next door.
What our brew will turn out like is, of course, still to be seen. In a few weeks we are due to show up for a bottling session, and after some more wait, I guess I’ll let you know.